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TITIAN

JUDITH AND HER MAIDSERVANT WITH THE HEAD OF HOLOFERNES, CA. 1570

About the Artwork

Judith was a biblical Jewish heroine who used her beauty to seduce, then decapitate, the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army, Holofernes, and thus save her people. The book of Judith is included in the Old Testament Apocrypha.

Executed in the last decade of the artist's long life, this interpretation of Judith's story shows Titian's extraordinary freedom of style. Not only has the artist altered the traditional iconography of the subject by replacing the old woman attendant with a black page, but the lower part of the picture displays the loose and broken brushstrokes typical of Titian's late pictures. While the contrast between the expressionist face of the giant and the smooth texture of Judith's is jarring, it also reinforces the disparity between the heroine and her conquest, as if femininity has won over roughness and violence.

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